Rumour Mill: Celtic renew World Cup star interest | Ritchie could make Scotland return, says Rafa | Rodgers wants end to plastic pitches

In today's Rumour Mill: Celtic have reportedly renewed their interest in Iranian World Cup star Milad Mohammadi; Rafa Benitez has hinted that Matt Ritchie could be returning to Scotland duties; Brendan Rodgers has slammed plastic pitches and wants government intervention to fund their removal from the Scottish Prem.

Rafa Benitez insists Matt Ritchie has not retired from international football

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has insisted that Matt Ritchie has not retired from international football with Scotland.

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He said: “I think he has been talking with Alex McLeish.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers wants to ditch the plastic pitch. Picture: SNS Group

“He is really proud to play for his country, but he knows we need everything here at the moment.

“Hopefully he wins things for Scotland in the future, though.”

Brendan Rodgers calls for government aid to ditch plastic pitches

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has called for national and local government intervention to banish artificial playing surfaces from the Premiership.

Rodgers takes his side to face Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Stadium tomorrow, one of three top flight grounds with synthetic pitches.

He said: “The Premiership is the flagship of Scottish football and there should not be astroturf pitches in it. Simple as that.

“We have to promote a standard in the Premiership, because it is beamed around the world. I’m not sure artificial pitches are what we want to promote.”

Celtic eyeing up Iran World Cup star once more

Celtic are tabling up a bid to snap up Iran World Cup star Milad Mohammadi, according to reports in Turkey.

The full back, who currently plys his trade at Russian club Akhmat Grozny, was linked with a move to Parkhead during the last transfer window.

Now according to Turkish media, Celtic have renewed their interest in the 25-year-old, who has also caught the eye of Fenerbahce.

Mohammadi turned heads during the last World Cup when he failed to pull off a “roly-poly” throw-in against Spain.

Neil Lennon adamant Hibs didn’t deserve Aberdeen defeat – and says team will turn corner

Hibs boss Neil Lennon insists his side didn’t deserve to lose to Aberdeen as he backed his misfiring squad to get back on track after the international break.

The Easter Road side slipped into the bottom six for the first time since returning to the Premiership in summer 2017 after losing 1-0 at Pittodrie

“We missed three good opportunities to get back in the game in the second half, I don’t remember my goalkeeper having a save to make, and we lost a sloppy goal,” said the Hibs manager. “I thought we were good value for at least a point and it’s frustrating as we are going through a blip at the moment but I’m confident we will come through it.”

New deal Ntcham snubbed big money move to Porto

Oliver Ntcham has revealed how he snubbed a multi-million switch to Porto before putting pen to paper on a new contract at Celtic.

The French midfielder signed a new deal on Friday, pledging his future to the Scottish champs.

Now he has revealed that, despite being flattered by their interest, he was never likely to accept the big money move to Portugal.

He said: “I’m happy when I hear that. It means that I had been doing great work.

“I felt as though I had a great last season and it was like winning a trophy for me to hear this, so I was pleased with that.

“But I am happy with life in Scotland. I enjoy everything, well maybe apart from the food.”

Steven Gerrard distances himself from Rangers statement on Willie Collum

Steven Gerrard has distanced himself from a Rangers club statement referring to “underlying issues” with Willie Collum following the referee’s dismissal of Daniel Candeias during the 2-0 win at St Mirren last Saturday. The Rangers manager insisted the disciplinary system must improve after an appeal against the Portuguese winger’s second yellow card failed.

“They are not my words,” Gerrard said of this element of the statement. “I don’t want to speak about any individual referee.

“I have to let the powers that be decide the outcome of this.”

Peter Haring happy to be Hearts captain ... and wear different colour of armband

Hearts’ Austrian midfield has been deliberately given a red captain’s armband after several colleagues suffered injuries wearing the yellow one.

It comes after a bizarre set of circumstances in which club skipper Christophe Berra, deputy John Souttar and stand-in Steven Naismith were all sidelined by injury this season whilst wearing the armband.

“It’s an honour for me to wear the armband. When the gaffer gave it to me I was a little bit surprised but I’m proud to wear it. Our kitman, Gogsy, gave me a red one because he told me he didn’t want to give me the yellow one. I don’t know where the yellow one is now,” laughed Haring.